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Marks and Spencer, food surplus & community

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Marks and Spencer has for a long time been dedicated to making a difference with its ‘Plan A’ vision for a sustainable future. Through this programme, first launched over 10 years ago in 2007, they strive to be a business that has a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet. The program focuses on social and environmental issues and ensuring that by 2025 they are a circular business, generating zero waste – a bold goal that involves all their operations, supply chains and customers.

Since 2012, M&S have been zero-waste-to-landfill across their owned operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland and have made the prevention of food waste a priority. They were the first major retailer to provide live updates via the Neighbourly website on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistributed, and the first to manage a nationwide redistribution scheme through a single platform.

This type of thinking isn’t new to M&S. They’ve always been an innovator and leader in their food operations – pioneering boil-in-the-bag and sachet meals in 1972, then creating Britain’s first chilled instant meal, the much-loved chicken Kiev in 1979. The ease of not having to cook up a meal from scratch suited the working woman and the popularity of the ready-meal soared – an innovation that most certainly changed how we ate as we entered the ‘80s.

Arguably their greatest invention remains the adored packaged sandwich, created by M&S in the spring of 1980. Packaged sandwiches are now a staple in our lives and the industry is booming, its annual worth estimated at £8 billion – so it may seem surprising that the idea had never been tried before, but it hadn’t. Packaged sandwiches were a huge novelty when they started being sold on the Marks and Spencer shop floor for as little as 43p just 37 years ago. Some thought them outlandish – who would pay for something they could just as easily make at home? But they sold, and sold fast. The way that we lived and worked was changing and soon every supermarket was following the trend. In the early 90s, the head of their sandwich department developed M&S’s first dedicated “food to go” section, with its own tills and checkouts, in Manchester. The innovation was a huge success and prefigured the layout of most contemporary supermarkets.

But as we know, the advent of the modern-day supermarket, combined with the changing lifestyles and expectations of consumers has bought about one of today’s biggest environmental challenges – food waste. The total estimate for UK food waste stands at a staggering 10.2 million tonnes. Of that, 7.1 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes – with 70% classed as ‘avoidable’ (meaning every year we put 5.0 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten into our bins, worth an estimated £15 billion). Marks and Spencer are working to address this problem through advancements in the products and packaging that they sell. They engage their customers and encourage them to store and use food more efficiently – for example shoppers have been given tips on how to avoid food waste and the clarity of food date labelling has been improved.

Of the remaining 3.1 million tonnes of UK food waste, 260,000 tonnes come from retail, 1.85 million from manufacturers and around 1 million from hospitality and food service. This waste has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent years, which has successfully resulted in a 50% increase in the amount redistributed to good causes in just two years, according to WRAP. This brings the 2017 total to the equivalent of 102 million meals redistributed – to the value of £130 million.

Marks & Spencer’s approach to food waste is comprehensive and they have committed to reducing food waste by 20% by 2020 and becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. Their primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place and they’ve invested in new stock forecasting and planning systems as well as comprehensive supplier engagement schemes. They’ve also increased the volume of short life food sold at a discount to customers and this process now consistently clears most of the products that would otherwise have been disposed of. After redistributing whatever possible to good causes through the Neighbourly platform, any remaining surplus goes to anaerobic digestion (a process that turns food waste into electricity – some of which is bought back to power M&S stores) – absolutely nothing goes to landfill. 

To date, M&S stores have donated around 4.9 million meals to local communities through their food surplus scheme. This includes surplus baked goods, cupboard items, fruit, vegetables and chilled food (meat, dairy, fish, frozen food, ready meals, juices, sandwiches). They also donate flowers and non-food surplus like cleaning products, laundry items and toiletries. Their stores are connected to more than 700 local charities across the UK where meals, food parcels and a helping hand are provided to those who need it.

Through Neighbourly, every store is partnered with a nearby group such as a community café, foodbank or homeless shelter that receives daily alerts to let them know when surplus is available. Thanks to these donations, charity partners can benefit from their resources going a little further, enabling them to provide fresh items, fruit and vegetables to people in the community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. The stores also provide wider support to their local charities through their year-long Local Charity Fundraising and annual volunteering programmes.

Here are just a few of the local causes that M&S support through Neighbourly:

Whitechapel Centre is the leading homelessness and housing charity in Liverpool supporting people to get back on their feet and providing them with a hot meal and a kind smile. Local M&S stores (and other retailers) give their unsold food to the centre so that this service can be provided. The charity also gives advice on housing, employment and basic facilities for the homeless. They are committed to helping people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation find a home and learn essential independent living skills. They work closely with each individual to get them the right help.

Norwich Food Hub collect surplus food from many stores in the area to redistribute it to community groups and local charities across the city. The hub was born from Director Rowan van Tromp’s passion surrounding environmental sustainability within the food supply chain and realisation that there was a lack of this type of service in the area. They receive and sort the food surplus before redistributing it to the vulnerable people across the city who are living at or below the breadline. Sadly, food poverty is a large issue in Norwich but the food hub’s work to redistribute surplus food is helping to lessen the problem.

In Yeovil, the community meals service delivers hot meals for the elderly or those who struggle to cook for themselves. Their meals are homemade and delivered by volunteers to people who might be suffering with dementia or physical issues that prevent them from cooking. Through this service carers are given a break from the task of preparing dinner by having a hot meal delivered instead, taking the strain away and brightening people’s days.

Marks and Spencer are continuing to expand their food surplus scheme, making sure they can donate as much food surplus as possible and make a positive impact in the community. If you have a charity or community cause that could regularly collect surplus, you should join the Neighbourly platform and create a free page for your group. Your organisation will need a Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certified no longer than 2.5 years ago. For chilled collections, you’ll need cool bags or boxes, freezers for storage and volunteers to collect after store closing in the evening.

For more information on Plan A, have a look at corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a

Jane

Content Manager

Sep 18, 2018

Win tickets and boxes to Wembley Stadium events with #MiniPitches

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The Football Association and their delivery partner The Football Foundation have partnered with Neighbourly to launch #MiniPitches - a programme to help schools and communities part-fund their own 3G football pitch. The pitches will enable schools to provide before, after school and lunchtime clubs with improved facilities to increase pupils’ participation in sport. The ambition is for the pitches to benefit the wider community too, with adult sport organisations and grassroots clubs using the facility at evenings and weekends.

Seven schools are fundraising between now and May 2018 to support their application to the Football Foundation to deliver an exciting new multi-use pitch.

To support the campaign we've launched an exciting range of prize draws for business and individual donors - with all donations qualifying for entry to fantastic prize draws, including signed England shirts and VIP Wembley tickets.


The Mini Pitch Prizes


Emirates FA Cup Semi Final - 8-person box to the game on either 21st or 22nd April

2 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 12th April 2018


SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 5th May - 8-person box at Wembley

3 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £100 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 20th April 2018.


Emirates Men's FA Cup Final General Admission ticket – 1 x pair 19th May

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria x 5 tickets

7 prizes (of 5 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 17th May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria - 3 x 8-person box with food at Wembley

1 Grand Prize of all 3 boxes to be won

This grand prize will be won by the business or individual that makes the highest donation to a participating school's Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or directly to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 11th May 2018.


Ed Sheeran concert tickets Saturday 16th June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Taylor Swift concert tickets Saturday 23rd June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Tickets to NFL Autumn game on 21st or 28th October 2018 – 1 x pair

2 prizes (of 2 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


Tickets to the Rugby Challenge Cup Final on 25th August 2018

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.

 

Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

4 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever an individual makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 2nd May 2018.


Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

3 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a registered business makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 29th February 2018 and closes 15th June 2018.


Terms & Conditions for all prize draws and grand prize entry can be found here: Mini Pitch Prize Draw T&Cs


Donations can be be by visiting the campaign page, scrolling down to choose a participating school and clicking on 'donate'.


Any queries should be sent to support@neighbourly.com


Best of luck!

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 10, 2018

There's no place like home

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24 Feb - 3 March 2018 is Homelessness Awareness Week in our home town of Bristol - an annual campaign to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. 

Homelessness is continuing to rise and is now at its highest rate since the ‘90s. It's estimated that over 60% of homelessness is 'hidden', with people finding temporary solutions to to avoid the dangers of the streets. This recent article from the BBC: You're on the verge of losing everything - but you don't understand why really touched us, and provides great insight into how easily a run of bad luck could happen to any one of us.

You may have already seen or donated to our campaign 'No Place Like Home' which we've been running over the winter months. The campaign is helping to raise essential funds for a collection of small, front-line homelessness organisations accross the UK. These groups are working day and night, rain and shine, to support people with nowhere to call home - giving them respite from hunger and assault and providing a launchpad to local housing options and support services.

As we enter one of the coldest week's of the year, please spare a few minutes to share the campaign page or any of the participating project pages on your TwitterFacebook or other social channels. If you'd like to make a donation, please choose a project from the campaign page and press 'Support this project': www.neighbourly.com/NoPlaceLikeHome

Jane

Content Manager

Feb 27, 2018

How To: Help Your Local Animal Shelter

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Britain is a nation of animal lovers and if you're anything like me (jumping for joy at every dog you come across in the street), then helping out at your local animal shelter is a great way to spend some free time.

Unfortunately there's a variety of reasons a pet can end up in a shelter. The obvious ones are the worst: cases of abuse and neglect. But sometimes it could be that the owner has passed away and there's nowhere left for their pet to go. The owner might have developed a serious or long term illness which means they can't care for them properly anymore.

There are often more of these cases than there are spaces in animal shelters. Staff at these animal shelters rely on donations to help keep doors open and volunteers to help them with their day to day care of the animals.

So what can you do to help?

Social media: they say charity starts at home, or in some cases, wherever you are with your mobile phone! You can start by sharing updates from your local shelter or adoption profiles on your social media channels. We know that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. are huge sources of information for most folks these days. Imagine you share little Bubbles' adoption profile on your Instagram tomorrow and next week she's off to her forever home because of it!

Photography: another useful and super fun activity you can volunteer for. For every pet up for adoption, a new mugshot is needed. Pets need to look their best for their adoption profiles and your photograph might capture the smile somebody has been looking for. Good quality photos of day to day activities, staff, volunteers and housing at the charity will also be really useful for the shelter to use for their own social media channels.

Transport: do you have a car? Transporting animals is a key need for charities - they need transport to get to the vet or maybe their new foster home. What better companion on the road riding shotgun than a four legged friend?

Socialising: this one is everyone's favourite! Dogs and cats need socialising to help them alleviate loneliness and distress that often comes with the shift from home to shelter life. Dogs will need exercising and cats will need cuddling - this human contact also helps them build on becoming more comfortable with new and different people.

Donating items: by donating stuff this means the charity doesn't need to use hard earned monetary donations on the purchasing of items when it could be used towards something crucial like vet bills. It's always best to check with your local shelter what they need, but they will always welcome beds, blankets, toys, cat litter and food etc. Well loved and used items are fine but make sure they're still in a relatively good condition. I'm sure you wouldn't want to sleep in a bed that's been chewed to pieces either!


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DIY skills: if you're good with your hands or have a group of friends willing to help, then skills like gardening and carpentry are always appreciated. There will always be bits that need mending - fences to put up, walls to paint, plants to prune! Gardening will also help the premises look more homely for its residents and provide lots of smells for the ones who like to follow their noses.

Laundry: this is probably one you haven't thought of before, but can you imagine how many blankets, towels and beds need washing? This one is sure to score you some brownie points, even if it's just volunteering half an hour to come in and throw a few loads in the washing machine. It means another member of staff can use that time to exercise a few extra animals - or just give them a well earned break.

Fundraising: this is obvious but vital to keep a shelter running. More often than not they rely on donations from generous donors and fundraisers or local grants. But with budgets being cut all over the nation, it's getting increasingly more difficult. These donations help to feed animals, pay for expensive vet bills and keeping the premises warm and running. Most staff work on a voluntary basis because there just aren't enough funds to go around, but these people give their time to work each day around the clock. There are a million ways to fundraise! From a bake sale at your local supermarket (remember to ask their permission first) to an epic skydive wearing a cat costume - it's all for a great cause and you'll have a blast doing it.

Fostering: this comes with some measure of responsibility and won't suit everyone. You'll likely need to be someone who's home a lot so that when your new furry housemate comes to stay, you can help them adjust and relax. Fostering is a great way to get animals used to human contact and the comings and goings of home life and is vital when the shelter runs out of room for the next animal who needs it. Who knows, you may find that having them around isn't so bad and they might be able to join your family full time :)

Take a look at some of our animal rescue on projects and see how you can help!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


Sophie Cook

Community Manager

Feb 1, 2018

'No Place Like Home' campaign to support local homelessness charities

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No Place Like Home is our new campaign aimed at helping anyone without a permanent home this Christmas, from those sleeping rough to those being provided for by foodbanks, temporary shelters or refuges. The Neighbourly website will provide a platform for more than 55 charities and projects across the UK, enabling them to reach local individuals who want to help. The requests for support range from funding for food items, warm clothing and sleeping bags and tents, as well as bags for belongings, toys and games.

Watch the campaign film.

Homelessness is currently at its highest rate since the 1990s, and local organisations (many of which are run by volunteers) are being forced to do more with their dwindling resources. Further pressure is being exerted because of local council cuts and less funding for homeless organisations, as well as cuts to mental health provision which has also led to a rise in homelessness.

Having a safe place to call home enables us to focus on our wellbeing, employment and social lives, but homelessness (or the threat of it) can happen all too quickly and easily. What has hit hardest is the reduction of support for local authorities, meaning that councils have had to cut back on support for those working with the most dispossessed. This campaign aims to support projects delivering essential services to people who, for whatever reason, need emergency support from a local charity - bringing them together in one place so that individuals and companies can contribute

We devised the campaign following feedback from our community asking for specific help this year as homelessness levels are anticipated to rise to the same numbers seen in the 1990s. We're hoping that business backers, keen to lend their brand to help raise awareness, and local individuals will contribute to the projects they care about through individual donations.

The homelessness crisis is currently at its worst. Officially, more than 4,130 people slept rough every night in the UK in 2016, a 16% rise on the previous year and more than double the 2010 figure. The true figure is many times higher. It is estimated that 62% of homelessness is ‘hidden’ because it includes people who become homeless but find a temporary solution such as staying with friends or living in a squat.

How to get involved:

Homelessness organisations who need funding or donations are welcome to join the campaign – please email hello@neighbourly.com for more info.


Jane

Content Manager

Dec 6, 2017

It's Time To Cheer For Good!

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From Wednesday 29th November it's time to get cheering!

Up until 20th December, 210 charities and their supporters nominated by Starbucks partners and customers around the UK will be raising awareness of important local causes on their Neighbourly pages and across Twitter using the hashtag #CheerForGood.

All 210 charities will receive a £500 grant from Starbucks and the 30 charities who cheer the loudest will receive £2,000!

You may recall similar festive campaigns Starbucks have run with Neighbourly over recent years. We spoke with charity St. Bernadette's BEEs Preschool who secured a £1,000 grant last year and here's what they had to say..

"It was a great opportunity not to be missed for such a small pre-school so we just picked up the pace and just went for it for it last year - I still can’t believe we secured £1000 by just tweeting and sharing our story. It’s just fantastic. 

We have worked tirelessly fundraising for our preschool, with more and more companies retracting support for small charities like our own the Neighbourly platform has become a vital lifeline to attract the support of companies.

We used the grant to purchase a new outdoor playhouse, sleepers, plants to grow our own vegetables, sand and arranged for Millers Animals to visit the preschool. Some of our children do not have access to an outdoor space at home and by bring the farm to the preschool more families were able to attend."

Now you can see all 210 charities taking part here! Want to support your favourite? Here's how:

  • Sign up to Neighbourly, follow and say hi to your charity on their project page
  • Tweet your support by including their Twitter handle and the hashtag #CheerForGood

Each charity's cheer will be measured by it's activity score on Neighbourly (followers, photos and updates posted etc.) and by the amount of tweets including their Twitter handle and the hashtag. So if you're tweeting support - don't forget to include #CheerForGood!

Every tweet you send will push your favourite charity just that little bit closer to that £2,000 grant so what are you waiting for?

Happy #CheerForGood everybody!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


Sophie Cook

Community Manager

Nov 29, 2017

Becoming a neighbourly society - the time is now

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Now, more than ever, we’re hearing about the huge, ever-expanding gaps in UK public services that are going to need an army of new volunteers if the provision is to continue. Volunteers Week 2017 has rightly brought more of this crisis to our attention – after all, the week is (or should be) as much about recruiting new volunteers as it is celebrating and thanking existing ones.

As this Guardian article states, volunteers are now running libraries, maintaining parks and staffing hospital reception desks due to austerity cuts, and whilst this is worth and estimated £23bn a year in economic value, it’s still nowhere near enough. And the extent of charities’ work in delivering frontline services keeps on increasing. Included in the essential services run by the charitable sector are ambulance services, housing, health & social care, probation, community transport, mental health and search and rescue – to name a few.

The dream – where neighbourly communities are built with residents, companies, local government teams, charities and community projects, all working in unison like a well-oiled machine – seems ever further from reach. Delivering resources into places that they are needed, building funds where they are depleted and diverting helping hands to where they can help shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is.

Many of these problems could be helped if we, as a whole society, could more easily draw upon our neighbourly values and lend support within our means to ensure everyone not just survives but thrives. We are given some glimpses of hope – The Charities Aid Foundation’s annual UK Giving report, for instance, says that 89% of people “did something charitable” in 2016, including volunteering, which is a huge hike from 79% in 2015.

Official figures are less encouraging though. People reporting having formally volunteered at least once a month – through a group, club or organisation – has flatlined since the turn of the century, standing in the last Cabinet Office survey of 2015-16 at 14.2 million, or 27% of the adult population. Informal volunteering – helping people who are not relatives and doing so not through a group, club or organisation, at least monthly – stood at 18 million, or 34% of the population, in 2015-16. These numbers have stayed broadly unchanged since 2000.

But perhaps it is not a lack of desire, rather a logistical minefield, that stops more of us from contributing. What are we permitted to do? How should we organise ourselves?

And what about companies in all of this? The Guardian article states that ‘charities will have to do much of the heavy lifting on this themselves’ – the 2015 legislation promise of three days’ paid volunteering leave annually for all public-sector workers and those private companies with 250+ staff, remains unfulfilled (and isn’t in the Tory 2017 programme). Regardless of legislation, many businesses have already bought in to the well-documented ‘employee volunteering business case’ and there has been an astronomic increase in UK companies (large ones at least) engaging in some form of employee volunteering. However, The London Benchmarking Group reported that the average proportion of employees engaging in employee volunteering in their member firms was 19 per cent last year, but often uptake is much lower.

There’s clearly a multitude of barriers. Whilst participating companies do advertise the opportunities, it isn’t always enough to turn employees into volunteers. They need to understand what they can learn, the impact they can have and how it will make them feel. Some companies we speak to say they have tried to make this work but their employees felt they didn't want to take the entitlement because they didn't know what opportunities were available and what the business really wanted them to do with the days.

But we think there’s another major factor at play – and one that is not just related to the giving of time. Again and again we come across a snag with company contributions. VAT regulations on product donations, Health and Safety regulations around volunteering, not to mention the complexities of insurance. And of course, the legislation associated with passing on food to those in need, makes these human things extremely worrisome (and in some cases a complete blocker) for the companies that do want to contribute.

The Good Samaritans Act is an interesting concept. It takes many forms across the globe, but if you look at the US, where all 50 states have some type of Good Samaritan law, individuals currently have protection when they lend a hand in an emergency. Put simply, if you see someone in trouble and you stop to help, but inadvertently do more harm than good, you are protected from being sued.

Could the principles of this act be extended more broadly in the UK to companies to take some of the shackles off? Can we become a society where if we see a need and we want to help, then we can have a go – being sensible in our decisions and careful and respectful in delivery of course – but free from the fear of repercussions?

Something has to change, for sure. Let’s have a look at Edelman’s 17th annual trust and credibility survey: ‘We are experiencing a total collapse in trust in the institutions that shape our society.’ Trust in the UK is at a historic low at 29 per cent. There is an unprecedented feeling that life is not as fair as it used to be. And sadly, only one in nine of the UK population think that the system still works.

Business needs to lead, and be free to do so. The rewards could be huge – our recent research showed employer led volunteering as resoundingly positive (7+ out of 10 - from the individuals taking part). Those who volunteered with their company trust other people and companies more than those who haven’t, and are more likely to recommend their company to a friend. On top of this, the research shows they are happier and more satisfied with life.

Clearly Marks and Spencer get it: this week 7000 M&S colleagues from over 650 stores and offices will be donating their time and skills to over 700 local community projects. Their new Plan A 2025 #SpenditWell community transformation programme will support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business.

There is, very definitely, huge untapped potential, a willingness to contribute and a glut of resources. Take a look at our Twitter feed if you ever need a reminder of the undying spirit of neighbourliness that defines our communities. Or this story of supermarket workers from Sainsbury’s donating food to police officers in the recent London Bridge attacks.

Let’s make the fabric of our society and the ownership of it a shared challenge where we all have and equal hand in helping it flourish.

Jane

Content Manager

Jun 8, 2017

How to write a compelling project story

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Once upon a time, a charity like yours decided to set up a profile on Neighbourly.

What is it about storytelling that grabs our attention? Well, we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years; they’re more memorable than facts, activate more of our brains and make us twice as generous when it comes to donating.

So it begs the question – are you telling a story about your charity, and if so, what story are you telling?

When businesses and potential supporters arrive at your project page, they’ll probably head straight for your description to understand exactly what your organisation (or project) is about. This could be the make or break moment when they try to determine whether your cause is something that they want to align with.

You could probably write pages and pages about your organisation and the background of your project, but writing a compelling project story means distilling it down to its essence. Here are some ideas on engaging supporters with your organisation's story.

 

Why should people support you?

As someone close to your charity, you can probably think of plenty of reasons why people should support your organisation. Start by noting these down, as this will help tell your story.

 

Consider starting off with a specific anecdote

There’s a reason why many public speakers kick off with a personal anecdote – as humans, we’re wired to hear them! It also helps us to relate to and empathise with a scenario. For example, a story of someone suffering from homelessness might begin with redundancy, divorce or other negative life event that could happen to anyone.

 

What story would you like to tell?

You might depict a fictional person that represents your ‘average’ service user, or a real person that experienced true transformation thanks to your organisation. Perhaps that person is a volunteer, or you might want to explore the story of how your group came to fruition. Regardless of what story you choose, make it feel personal - your supporters are influenced more by their emotions than rationality.

 

How to tell a story

Traditionally, the story arc is a three-act structure: setup, confrontation and resolution. A good way to break that down is to introduce your character, a challenge they need to overcome, what action they took with the help of your charity (and donors), and finally the impact this has on their life.

 

Back your story up with facts

Once you’ve explored the individual’s story, zoom out and illustrate the trends at large. How many people are affected by this problem? Is the situation getting worse? What does the future look like for those affected if nothing is done?

You may have already introduced the great work your organisation does in the story at the beginning, but again, you can broaden the information out. How many people are you helping? How is that impacting society? What kind of future are you working towards?

 

Be specific how support will help

If you’re raising funds or rallying volunteers on Neighbourly, share exactly what this support will achieve, both in practical terms (such as renovating a space) and in terms of impact. This might be making your centre more pleasant for beneficiaries to be in, but also enabling you to help even more people.

 

Consider the person reading about your project

Why should they help your organisation rather than another one tackling the same issue? Why now? Remember that both people and businesses are looking to help causes that reflect their own worldview, so be clear on what your vision is.

Also, use language that your audience will understand. Your supporters might be emotionally engaged with your cause, but not an expert on the subject. Avoid jargon and always try to explain things in the simplest manner possible.

 

Get inspired

It’s always helpful to take inspiration from how other charities choose to tell their story. Take a look at the other projects looking for support on neighbourly.


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


 

Jane

Content Manager

Dec 19, 2016

The simple things that make a huge difference

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It’s that time of year again – the mince pies arrive in the shops, the decorations go up and the tree is decked with shiny baubles. For most of us this is such simple pleasure and something we probably take for granted.

Here at Neighbourly we get to hear so many incredible stories about the simple things making such a huge difference to people’s lives. Toys for children in hospitals, a lunch out for people who live alone - the things which cost very little, but mean so much. One such story that caught my eye recently was the Christmas Tree for Arlington project that came onto the Neighbourly website in early December.

The Arlington Hostel in Camden, which opened over a hundred years ago in 1905, helps homeless visitors to achieve independence and re-integrate within the community. They support people to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem, forming partnerships with organisations from the wider community and provide activities and opportunities to aid their recovery and help their well-being both physical and mental.

Their simple request was for a Christmas Tree, knowing that it would make a huge difference to their visitors' lives. A tree would also make the hostel a more welcoming place over the Christmas period.

In my eyes, it’s just not Christmas without a tree, so Team Neighbourly decided to donate some money to the Arlington Hostel to make sure that it felt as homely and festive as possible for their guests and visitors. The tree is now up and looking great! We know that it will bring some happiness to the visitors of the hostel over the festive period, and that in turn makes up happy too.

The hostel is also looking for extra donations of presents, clothing and bedding to help them over the Christmas period. If you feel that you could help them in any way, please get in touch with us here at Neighbourly (hello@neighbourly.com) or speak to someone at the hostel.

The simplest of gestures really can make such a difference - Merry Christmas!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Sophie Cook

Community Manager

Dec 19, 2016

If you're a local charity - thanks for all you do

LoveTeddy

Christmas is coming, and it’s time to put a penny in your local charity’s hat. 

All over the UK, foodbanks, children’s clubs and many, many more will be helping out people having a tough time over Christmas, spreading some much needed Yuletide goodwill in their community.

Research from the Small Charities Coalition and TSB last year found that over half of us think that local charities play an important role in the community, yet only one in 10 (13%) can name at least two local charities in their area, and only one in 10 (14%) help their local community by fundraising for local causes.

If you’re one of these wonderful charities, thank you for all you do, and let’s see if we can help you unlock the support of your communities.

At Neighbourly we want to know what you need.  We’re putting together campaigns like Fund A Fridge to find out what charities are struggling with and help raise awareness for them within their local communities. 

This campaign came from research we did with 200 food charities, who told us that they could do more if they had access to a fridge or freezer to store food safely. This is particularly important for charities who make use of food surplus provided through schemes such as Neighbourly Food, which connects supermarkets with local charities. 

We also know from this research there are times of the year - like Christmas - where there is much greater demand, but it’s harder to get volunteers and additional funds. We want to make life a bit easier, reducing the administration and giving more time to concentrate on supporting people, so projects on Neighbourly can list what they need and set up volunteering events. 

And we know at this time of the year it’s difficult to cut through the noise and get your message across, so Beth and Jane have put together hints and tips on how to best tell and promote your story to your community.  

We’ve got willing individuals and companies who want to help, with their time, support and in kind giving.  Find out how to join our movement with our ‘starter guide’ and go to neighbourly.com see how we can help.

Oh, and, Merry Christmas!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Dec 16, 2016